Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chinese chops

I've always been fascinated by Chinese chops or seals. I even owned a chop with my name on it long before I went to China for the first time. I had a friend who was going to Hong Kong pick one up for me.

Now I own another one. The second one I got on a trip to Xi'an. I'd been to the Terra Cotta Warriors the day before, and wanted something as a souvenir. As I was walking through the Muslim Quarter, I spotted a chop maker. He had a chop with a warrior on top, so I whisked out my business card in Chinese and had him engrave my first name on it.

Surprisingly, the characters for Cheryl are different on each chop.

The friend picked my name out of a book of English names translated into Chinese characters. When I worked at China Daily, they translated my name phonetically into characters. That's the one that I use today, usually when "signing" the books on China I've written. In those characters, my name is pronounced as "shay ree la." It's just a group of characters that don't mean anything. Depending on the characters used, I'm told "Cheryl" can mean "morning dew" or "snow drop." And there are problably other translations out there.

There's a couple of sites on the Internet which will translate your name into characters. And I found out today, when I was researching chops for a article that you can use Adobe Illustrator to come up with a chop based on your own signature. How exciting this would be, but probably only if your signature is legible to begin with.

Visit my website for more information about traveling in China.

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